dog is cage

No Pet Store Puppies Day Is July 21

July 21 is National No Pet Store Puppies Day. This is a great chance to educate your friends and family about what happens in puppy mills and remind them not to buy puppies, or any pet supplies, from pet stores that sell puppies—and adopt from a shelter or rescue group instead!

Puppy mill cruelty is a national problem. Tens of thousands of breeding dogs spend their lives in puppy mills, large-scale commercial breeding operations where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Dogs in these facilities are typically housed in tiny, overcrowded cages in unsanitary conditions, without proper veterinary care of adequate access to food and water—and many live out their entire lives without ever experiencing human affection. Female breeding dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no time between litters for their bodies to recover, in order to produce as many puppies as possible and generate more profit for the mills.

What’s more, their offspring may suffer from behavior, congenital and hereditary problems as a result of irresponsible breeding practices. Puppies are typically sold to pet shops as young as eight weeks of age. Since most pet store puppies come from puppy mills, this cruelty is perpetuated every time a puppy is purchased from a pet store.

The ASPCA estimates that there are between 6,000 and 10,000 commercial breeding facilities in the United States—and we refuse to rest until every single mill dog is safe.

If you’re ready to stand with us against puppy mills, here are a few ways you can raise awareness and help puppy mill dogs right now.

Check out the ASPCA’s revamped No Pet Store Puppies website. Visit to find out if your state regulates commercial breeders and how you can help end the cruelty. Sign the pledge that you won’t buy anything from pet stores that sell puppies—and tell everyone you know not to shop at those stores, either!

About Pet Store Puppies

The most important thing to know about those adorable little furballs is that they come from puppy mills. Yes, we mentioned that, but it’s that important.

Many pet stores claim to get their animals from “local breeders.” But remember, puppy mills are local to the communities where they’re located. And yes, there’s a good chance there’s one near you.

Animals that come from mills tend to come with a whole host of potential problems. Not every animals will have every problem, of course. But it’s an unacceptable risk.

Health Issues. Most puppy mills don’t give their animals medical care or tests. The animals may have genetic disorders, neurological issues and infections, among other problems. Canine parvovirus is especially serious and can be life-threatening.

Behavior Problems. Mill puppies are usually taken from their mothers at only a few weeks old, and they’re usually not handled much or shown love. So they’re not socialized with either dogs or humans. That means they don’t know how to act; they don’t know how to be dogs.

Not Housebroken (and hard to train). Mill animals (breeding animals and puppies) spend their whole lives in tiny cages. They eat, sleep, pee and poop all in that little space. They never learn to “do their business outside”, or at least away from their living area. It can be hard to retrain them to wait to go outside.

Not necessarily purebred. Not everyone cares about getting a purebred dog, of course. But if that’s what you’re looking for, even the AKC papers you get with your new little bundle of fluff can’t guarantee that’s what you’re getting. Papers can be (and are) faked.

To make matters worse, if you take advantage of the pet store’s warranty and return your sick puppy, the odds are good the store will euthanize him or her. Think about it: What else are they going to do with an animal nobody is going to want?


lab puppies

Do Reputable Breeders Exist?

Yes! Although many people use the term puppy mill to refer to anyone who breeds dogs (and other animals), we think that’s unfair.

Reputable breeders are usually small and focus on one breed. They make sure all their dogs (breeders and puppies) get regular vet visits, tests, vaccinations, etc. They socialize their puppies and keep the litters with the mother for at least 8-10 weeks.

They also welcome visits from potential owners and are happy to show you their facilities. In fact, many want to meet you so they can be sure their precious pups are going to good homes.

Reputable breeders care more about the animals than about the money they make from them. And they don’t always make money off them. Here’s one breeder’s breakdown of her expenses and income from 3 litters a few years ago.

And most don’t sell their puppies to pet stores! Those pet store puppies are from breeders who don’t care where the animals end up once they get their money.

How many reputable breeders are there? We really don’t know. But we’re pretty sure they are the minority of breeders.


So Where Can You Find Your Next Pet?

Rescues and shelters! They may be “mutts,” but mutts tend to be healthier than purebred animals.

Animals that were strays or from abusive situations may have other injuries or problems. But you’ll know about them. Rescued animals are all vetted before being put up for adoption. Injuries and illnesses get treated. Animals that aren’t ready for a permanent home go to foster homes first, where they get time to heal and learn to trust.

Is the process for getting an animal healthy and adoptable perfect? No. Do adopters sometimes find themselves with animals with more health/behavioral issues than expected? Yes. But remember, those problems also exist with “perfect” pet-store animals.

And if you want a specific breed, ask around to find a rescue that specializes in that breed. Odds are at least one rescue does.

Scroll down for some ideas on celebrating this unofficial animal holiday.

How to Celebrate No Pet Store Puppies Day

Learn more about pet store puppies and the puppy mills they come from.

Find out if your state has laws to protect dogs in puppy mills. These are a good start, but many of them are not strong enough to stop the unsanitary conditions and lack of care.

Pledge not to buy anything at pet stores that sell puppies. But don’t be confused by pet stores that have partnered with rescues to adopt animals out of their stores. Many (but not all) PetCo and PetSmart stores adopt out animals from local rescues. By all means give these stores your business.

Vow to get your next pet from a shelter or rescue. Check out the ASPCA’s How to Avoid Cruelty section. You’ll find information on shelters as well as how to find a reputable breeder.

Check out this gallery of photos taken inside puppy mills. Many pictures are of illegal conditions. Others are legal, but still supremely sad for the animals living there.

Learn about Harley, a puppy mill survivor whose story helped spread awareness of the horror of puppy mills and inspired Harley’s Dream and Harley’s Puppy Mill Action and Awareness Project. Harley left us on March 20, 2016, but his dream lives on. And all the humans who loved him will carry on the fight against puppy mills.



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